Mario Balotelli: Liverpool striker accepts FA misconduct charge

Italian had re-communicated an image which included an anti-Semitic message

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The Independent Football

Liverpool have tonight announced that Mario Balotelli will not contest his Football Association misconduct charge for re-communicating a message which included an anti-Semitic message, on Instagram.

It had been thought that the Italian – who has returned to training and is expected to be on the bench for his club at Manchester United this weekend – would challenge the governing body’s charge that he was in breach of their rule E3 by re-posting the message. But in a move which come as a relief to his club – who do not want to be plunged into a race controversy three years after Luis Suarez was convicted of racially abusing Patrice Evra - Balotelli has decided against a not-guilty plea.

The 24-year has responded to last Friday’s FA charge to say that he accepts it. But it is understood that he will be offering mitigation to the governing body’s disciplinary panel. This will be presented in the form of a written defence and the player will not request a personal hearing

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Balotelli’s acceptance of the charge and the FA’s disciplinary process will weigh in his favour when the governing body comes to decide on his punishment, which may now be limited to a fine. QPR’s Rio Ferdinand’s three-match ban for a similar offence came after he aggravated the FA by declining to attend an FA hearing or make a submission. That appeared to be a failure to acknowledge the charge.

Balotelli will argue in his own defence that he thought the message he re-transmitted was an ironic strike at racism and that his own multi-cultural background has led him to speak up against racism, rather than propagate it. The message depicted the computer game character ‘Super Mario’ alongside a racial stereotype and anti-Semitic remark: “Jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.”

 

Liverpool manager Rodgers said that Balotelli’s approach to work since returning to work this week had been good. “He has only just come back into training. We will see what his fitness is like [before considering him for Old Trafford]. In the last few days he has looked good in training.”

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